The District and Arlington claimed third and fourth place, respectively, in a new national survey of U.S. cities with the best parks.
The survey came from the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit group whose “mission is to create parks and protect land for people,” according to its website.
The District and Arlington were bested only by Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Twin Cities that claimed the top two spots. Arlington, noted for its park access, splash pads and restrooms, pulled ahead of San Francisco and Portland, Ore., in this year’s survey. (Arlington is a county but is treated as a city in the annual survey.)
“The research is clear: quality, close-to-home parks are essential to communities. Everyone deserves a great park within a 10-minute walk of home,” Diane Regas, president and chief executive of the Trust for Public Land, said in a statement. “These rankings are the gold-standard for park access and quality, and empower people to hold their leaders accountable.”
The rankings are based on cities’ “ParkScore,” which accounts for the sizes of parks and how many residents live near them, as well as their amenities in the nation’s 100 largest cities. The score also measures how much cities spend on parks.
Ninety-eight percent of D.C. and Arlington residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, the survey found. The District outscored Arlington on park acreage, with 22 percent of the city devoted to parks, compared with Arlington’s 11 percent.
The District spends $257 per resident on parks compared with $240 per resident in Arlington. However, Arlington beat the District on restrooms and playgrounds.
“We are proud to have such an amazing park and recreation system,” Jane Rudolph, director of the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation, said in a statement. “With limited acreage and an urban atmosphere our challenge is to provide something for everyone.”
The top 10:
2. St. Paul, Minn.
5. San Francisco
6. Portland, Ore.
9. New York
10. Irvine, Calif.
Cities with the lowest-ranking park systems:
90. Baton Rouge
92. Winston Salem, N.C.
93. Laredo, Tex.
94. Fresno, Calif.
95. Hialeah, Fla.
96. Mesa, Ariz.
Indiana residents, take note: Fort Wayne and Indianapolis declined to participate and were not ranked, according to a statement from the Trust for the Public Land. Gilbert, Ariz., meanwhile, was not ranked because the necessary data was unavailable, the statement said.
In the 100 cities ranked by ParkScore, public spending on parks increased by more than $400 million in 2018, to $7.5 billion.